from Michael ‘Ginger’ Stuart
Some time in the early 1980s I was working on a research project at Fulmer producing zinc sulphide by chemical vapour deposition. The material was required for radomes transparent to infra-red radiation. The picture shows one of these.
The client was British Aerospace. The project involved the construction of a pilot chemical plant at Fulmer and its twin at their premises, with the result that the staff at British Aerospace became close friends.
When the Farnborough air show came along, Alan Campbell, a friend at BA, gave me a complimentary ticket to the show and insisted that we meet up there.
I duly attended the show and made my way to the British Aerospace pavilion. Entering, I found the reception desk where I made myself known, gave my name and explained that I was due to meet friends who were employees of the company.
The receptionist then selected a prepared badge and pinned it to my lapel.
I enjoyed the champagne reception, an excellent view of the show and a buffet lunch but there was no sign of my friends. Accordingly, midway through the afternoon, I decided that as I had missed my friends I would look at the fixed exhibition so before leaving the pavilion I paused to hand in my lapel badge and before doing so glanced at the name, which read “Lieutenant Commander Stuart, Royal New Zealand Navy”. Not me at all.
By coincidence, we not only shared the same name but patently he had decided to give the show a miss, leaving the field open for me. My friends were manning a trade stand in the hall and were rather put out that I hadn’t looked them up sooner so that they could take me to lunch in the canteen. I told them not to worry as I had had lunch.
Later we had a laugh over my case of mistaken identity. However, Dr Duckworth heard me telling the story back at Fulmer and the expression on his face showed that he didn’t altogether share the amusement.